Murray Chass, J.G. Taylor Spink award winner and writer's-wing member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, is at it again. And by at it again, I mean, desperately seeking attention. His current get-off-my-lawn rant is about Felix Hernandez's coming AL Cy Young Award, and he knows exactly what he's doing:
The development, I believe, is directly related to the growing influence of the new-fangled statistics which readers of this site know I have no use for, a fact that sends stats-freak denizens of the blogosphere into a stats-freak frenzy.
"Look out, he’s at it again" the cry will go out, as if a carrier of the black plague were loose in the land. And a flood of e-mail messages will pour in to my inbox calling me vile names (they are only the best educated and articulate of responders) and telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about.
Rather than fulfill his need for attention, I'd prefer to provide a genuine and non-mean spirited translation in the first person:
1. Zack Greinke won the Cy Young with only 16 victories, and Tim Lincecum won his second with only 15. I'm going to assert that this is a slippery slope.
2. This is directly related to the growing recognition of sabermetrics as the better way to analyze baseball. I will be yelled at and verbally assaulted but I still intend to provide my opinion.
3. Felix Hernandez has impressive statistics, and I admit that he had terrible run support. In his 12 losses, he had 7 runs. Total. This will not dissuade me from continuing my essay.
4. I will provide a couple of examples of pitchers on bad teams that still earned wins, and then immediately mention that they didn't suffer as bad in run support as Hernandez, undermining my point (as if comparing eras is fair in the first place).
5. I should mention that The New York Times, which I worked for from the beginning of George Steinbrenner's tenure all the way to 1986, has been infected with this "saber metric" problem.
6. Did I mention that I actually think Hernandez IS the best pitcher in the league? He just doesn't deserve the Cy Young because he doesn't have the wins.
7. Hey look, a New York Yankee won 21 games, and his name is C.C. Sabathia. He should win the Cy Young.
Look. I know you guys have all seen the funny line-by-line refutations and snark-filled responses to these guys. They used to be really, really funny, especially in a time when sabermetrics was still ridiculed (and before they were recognized and given entire sections on ESPN, CNNSI, NY Times, etc.). I loved those--and I think they did a lot to change the perception of sabermetrics in the mainstream.
But that time has passed. This is an article that anticipates sabermetric analysis overcoming useless statistics! It means the battle is largely over, if ever there actually was one. And while I hesitate to stoop to calling this a struggle of light vs. dark (really, Mr. Chass?), whatever it is, it's mostly over.
These are the last of a dying breed, and I mean no disrespect by that. But spending time to argue with a man that acknowledges the player in question is the best and has superior statistics, actually uses "new-fangled" in a non-ironic sense, and acknowledges that he knows his writing is going to piss people off, well, the best thing we can do is ignore him.
It's over, Mr. Chass.*
*Now, about that Gold Glove thing...